Domaine Oudin Chablis 2022
Classic sweet river rock minerality and floral freshness, this is a meticulous perfectionists’ Chablis ‘tout-court’ (as the locals call the ‘village’ appellation). This wine is at its peak now and will remain there for another 3-4 years. A lovely introduction to the Domaine Oudin style.
The Domaine Oudin came to be in the late 1980s when Jean-Claude and Christine Oudin left the stress of Paris life behind and settled near the bridge in Chichée to raise their two daughters and to develop a small 5 acre vineyard they had inherited near Chablis. Today, the daughters, Nathalie and Isabelle, oversee almost 20 acres of Chardonnay. From the outset, theirs has been a natural viticulture, respectful of the environment, and a style of winemaking that is at once simple and modern.
After three successive high-quality but low-quantity vintages, winemakers in Burgundy are refilling their cellars with an excellent 2022 harvest.This is not to say that it was an easy ride. Once again, frost, heat and drought put stress on the growing season, but timing is everything, and the extreme weather did much less damage than in previous years.
Winters have been wet and mild for years now. The winter of 2021-22 was not, with less than average rainfall and seasonal temperatures. Under these ‘normal’ conditions, we would expect budburst in the first half of April. But summer-like conditions at the end of March forced the vines, especially Chardonnay, to bud early, and we went into frost season with tender green buds exposed. There were two nights in the coming week below zero, but damage was limited.
Spring conditions set in in mid-April, but Summer followed soon thereafter, dry with spiky heat waves. The vines went wild. Winemakers fought to keep the growth under control. And the fight continued until flowering, which happened a couple of weeks early in mid-May.
The warm, dry conditions led to nearly-perfect flowering. We saw for the first time the potential of a great crop, with lots of beautiful, full, well-formed grape bunches; and an early harvest, with fruit setting well ahead of schedule.
But the drought held, and the fear was that this beautiful fruit would shrivel on the vine. Finally, at the end of June, the rain came. Summer storms bring with them the risk of hail, so all eyes were on the sky as the storms were sometimes violent causing significant but limited hail damage. The rains were intermittent, but regular for the next weeks. The cumulative rainfall would not be enough to see the crop through to harvest, however.
The heat waves continued through the rains, and so the risk of fungal disease, usually associated with wet conditions, dried up. But temperatures spiked and dry conditions set in again. The grapes ripened in a full-blown heat wave. Winemakers had to keep a close eye on sugar levels, as the risk was that ripeness could gallop away at the last minute.
And then, just about the time when it looked like an over-ripe mid-August harvest was imminent, it rained again. And the producers were able to let that water absorb into the fruit, increasing the volume of juice that was ultimately harvested in the first week of September.
2022, both white and red, are showing real depth and ripeness. And while there was once again very little malic acid, the tartaric acid holds the balance and structure together. Early tastings in the barrel show enormous charm and vitality. Very promising.
CHABLIS and the GRAND AUXERROIS
Located near the city of Auxerre in the department of Yonne, the Chablis vineyards lie on slopes above valleys that feed into the Serein river. Vines date of course to the Roman era, but in the 12th century, the Cistercian monks from the abbey of Pontigny developed serious cultivation. The Chablis appellations (Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru) form a qualitative pyramid of which the Grand Cru appellation forms the apex.
Petit Chablis, which is the local equivalent to the regional appellation 'bourgogne', comes from vineyards on either side of the river, usually on the edges of Chablis production or on the plateaus above the valleys. They can vary wildly in quality.
Chablis (or 'tout court' as the locals say) is the local equivalent of the village appellation, and is generally found on the edges of the premier cru production.
Chablis premier cru vineyards are generally situated above the valleys on slope with ideal exposition. They almost always are planted on the chalky kimmeridgian clay. Left bank and the right bank minerality are the most obvious ways to categorize these wines.
Chablis grand cru comes from vineyards to the north-east of the town of Chablis on the right bank of the Serein facing the sun at altitudes of 100-250 meters. The Grand Cru climats form a continuous band along the upper part of the valley from Bougros in the north-west, through Preuses, Vaudésir, Grenouille, Valmur and Les Clos to Blanchot in the south-east.
The appellation Chablis includes a total of 89 premiers crus and 6 grands crus.
Producing communes: Beines, Béru, Chablis, Fyé, Milly, Poinchy, La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, Chemilly-sur-Serein, Chichée, Collan, Courgis, Fleys, Fontenay-Près-Chablis, Lignorelles, Ligny-le-Châtel, Maligny, Poilly-sur-Serein, Prehy, Villy et Viviers.
Chablis is often pale in color, ranging from white gold to greeny gold, and it should be limpid, brilliant and fat. The nose is often discreet in youth, but is marked by freshness, dusty minerality, grassiness and white floral notes like acacia or honeysuckle. Extremely distinctive chalky minerality (coming from a streak of kimmeridgian clay running through the region) carries the fruit on the palate, making a good Chablis very persistent in length. There are distinct differences between 'left bank' (of the river Serein) and 'right bank', having mostly to do with hours of exposition to the sun. Left bank wines have an almost severe minerality (much loved by the locals) whereas right bank Chablis is rounder, riper. Either however should be easily recognized as unmistakeably Chablis to any discerning taster. The premiers crus and grands crus are set apart because they generally have a higher concentration of the kimmeridgian as well as prime exposition. The grands crus are the best example of this. They are all grouped together in an amphitheater-shaped heat trap and, come harvest time, invariably have that half degree more potential alcohol than other vineyards in the zone.
No French wine-growing area has its reputation more firmly allied to its geology. The main substrata is jurassic limestone (specifically, kimmeridgian clay) laid down some 150 million years ago. The rock contains deposits of tiny fossilized oyster shells which remind us that Burgundy once lay beneath a warm ocean. This is the same rock that much of Champagne is planted upon, and it is the same rock through which the Channel Tunnel is bored, as this geologic vein makes its way into south-east England.
White wines only - Chardonnay (known locally as " Beaunois ")
Production surface area :
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Grand Cru: 104.07 ha
Premier Cru :776.08 ha
Chablis : 3,256.81 ha
Petit Chablis: 843.32 ha
Chablis is aromatically highly complex and very adaptable with food. Good matches include oysters and shellfish, as well as fish, grilled or in sauce. The more mineral versions (left bank) go well with quality poultry or veal. The more open and round variations (right bank) are locally drunk with the traditional dishes like andouillettes (tripe sausages) and of course, the Burgundian specialty par excellence, escargots (snails). Another local specialty is jambon au Chablis, thick-sliced cured ham braised in Chablis and cream. Chablis can also tackle the wine-killer, asparagus. It also goes well with creamy goat cheeses, as well as mountain cheeses like Beaufort, Comté, or Emmental.
On the label, the appellation Chablis 1er Cru may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
These climats are often inclusive. The 17 bigger classified climats have names which the producers opt to use more often:
Mont de Milieu - Vallée de Chigot
Montée de Tonnerre - Chapelot, Les Chapelots, Pied d’Aloup, Sous Pied d’Aloup, Côte de Bréchain
Fourchaume - Vaupulent, Vau Pulan, Les Vaupulans, La Fourchaume, Côte de Fontenay, Dine-Chien, L’Homme Mort, La Grande Côte, Bois Seguin, L’Ardillier, Vaulorent, Les Quatre chemins, La ferme couverte, Les Couvertes
Vaillons - Sur les Vaillons, Chatains, Les Grands Chaumes, Les Chatains, Sécher, Beugnons, Les Beugnons, Les Lys, Champlain, Mélinots, Les Minos, Roncières, Les Epinottes
Montmains - Les Monts Mains, Forêts, Les Forêts, Butteaux, Les Bouts des Butteaux, Vaux Miolot, Le Milieu des Butteaux, Les Ecueillis, Vaugerlains
Côte de Léchet - Le Château
Beauroy - Sous Boroy, Vallée des Vaux, Benfer, Troesmes, Côte de Troesmes, Adroit de Vau Renard, Côte de Savant, Le Cotat-Château, Frouquelin, Le Verger
Vauligneau - Vau de Longue, Vau Girault, La Forêt, Sur la Forêt
Vaudevey - La Grande Chaume, Vaux Ragons, Vignes des Vaux Ragons
Vaucoupin - Adroit de Vaucopins
Vosgros - Adroit de Vosgros, Vaugiraut
Les Fourneaux - Morein, Côte des Près Girots, La Côte, Sur la Côte
Côte de Vaubarousse
Chaume de Talvat
Côte de Jouan
Les Beauregards - Hauts des Chambres du Roi, Côte de Cuissy, Les corvées, Bec d Oiseau, Vallée de Cuissy
On the label the following climats are classified as grand cru: